ST. LOUIS -- The soybean checkoff's highest recognition, the USB Outstanding Achievement Award, was awarded to the John Deere Company for its Biodiesel Factory-Fill Program.

The presentation from the United Soybean Board and the checkoff was made during the Commodity Classic's American Soybean Association Awards Banquet.

Each year, the checkoff honors individuals and organizations that help create a positive impact for U.S. soybean farmers, the soybean industry and the checkoff through two awards. This year, the awards included the Excellence in International Marketing Award and the USB Outstanding Achievement Award.

One year ago, John Deere announced its plans to use a 2-percent blend of biodiesel fuel (B2) as the preferred factory-fill in diesel-powered, self-propelled machines made in the United States. During its first year, John Deere's factory-fill program used more than one million gallons of biodiesel fuel. Don Borgman, who is responsible for Market Planning and Customer Integration at John Deere, spearheaded Deere's adoption of B2 as a factory-fill.

The Excellence in International Marketing Award was given to Michael Cremer for his three decades of work in aquaculture. Cremer's checkoff-funded aquaculture programs in China have helped grow the usage of soybean meal in aquafeeds from zero bushels in 1990 to more than 186 million bushels today.

Without Cremer's efforts and passion for aquaculture, the advances made in China for U.S. soybean farmers would not exist. Most recently, Cremer and his team of researchers developed the Ocean Cage Aquaculture Technology that will expand opportunities for soy-based feeds in ocean-based aquaculture.

"The soybean checkoff is fortunate to have the support of industry partners and individuals whose dedication has opened new markets for U.S. soybean farmers," said Curt Raasch, USB chairman and a soybean farmer from Odebolt, Iowa. "New uses like biodiesel and aquaculture equal increased demand for soybeans and as a farmer, that's something I can take heart in."

The USB Excellence Award is a rotating award that recognizes outstanding achievement in five categories: communications, domestic marketing, international marketing, new uses and production research. The Outstanding Achievement Award is an annual award presented by the soybean checkoff recognizing overall excellence to the soybean industry and U.S. soybean farmers.

USB is made up of 64 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal utilization, human utilization, industrial utilization, industry relations, market access and supply.

As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Customer Information Act, USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.

SOURCE: USB news release.